Three on a match

Three on a match

Kingston’s three-way race for mayor seemed something of a laugher back last summer when almost nobody was paying attention. Not now, as the days dwindle down to a Nov. 5 faceoff between Democratic incumbent Steve Noble, Republican challenger Ellen DiFalco and independent party candidate Vince Rua.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that an incumbent with a better than 3-2 enrollment advantage and almost four years to establish a record would be a shoo-in. One-on-one, with a strong, well-financed challenger, that might not be the case. But with three in the race, the pendulum swings toward the incumbent.

The math works like this: Face-to-face, the mayor needs a simple majority to win. In a three-way, 40 percent could do the trick. Advantage Noble, because in effect his two opponents are splitting the opposition. Were the opposition to coalesce around one candidate, which is not likely given the animosity between Rua and DiFalco, the election might well be decided on that 50 percent fault line.

As in a jury trial, all the defense (the challengers) has to do is create reasonable doubt in the minds of voters. Rua is, by any fair assessment, a long shot, but has run a spirited campaign in raising issues of leadership, fiscal policy, affordable housing and, perhaps the most intriguing of all, whether this mayor, if reelected, will be mayor for very long in 2020.

Rua dropped that bombshell at the chamber of commerce breakfast last month, to no response from Hizzoner, until I asked him. His answer seemed unequivocal: he had not been offered a job in Albany. He would not accept one if offered. He was staying right here in Kingston, so he said.

Rua’s response: “He’s hedging. Plenty of people live right here in Kingston and work in Albany, and further than that,” he said. Perhaps Nobel’s wasn’t as Shermanesque as I thought.

I’ll take the mayor at his word, but if he does bail early next year after winning a second four-year term, the no-contest race for alderman-at-large takes on significant meaning. The first alderwoman-at-large will be freshman alderwoman Andrea Shaut. By city charter, she would automatically fill out the term should the mayor vacate for any reason.

Rua’s residency issue may be a red herring, but needs to be more thoroughly vetted. Next stop: Temple Emanuel in Kingston will host the last of the mayoral debates on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.

BLESS OUR PETS, EVEN UNTO DRAGONS – About a week ago, the Redeemer Lutheran Church in downtown Kingston sponsored a blessing of the animals event in its parking lot at its usual Sunday morning service. About 20 people with their pets joined congregants. Interim pastor Tom Taylor presided. It was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the first to preach that we are all God’s creatures.

Pastor Taylor, an old hand at these kinds of events, gave a brief history of his church’s involvement. “We’ve had all kinds of animals blessed here, mostly dogs and cats,” he said.

“Have you had birds?” asked a small boy in the front row, sitting with his family and their pet cat.

“Sure, we’ve had birds, goldfish, mice and a snake, a very large snake,” the pastor said, turning his attention to the actual blessing.

“Did you ever have a dragon?” insisted the boy. 

“Of course!” the priest said with a wink to the audience “Sometimes you just have to make things up.”

I’m a fire and brimstone guy myself, but I do love a clergyperson with a sense of humor.